By Johnny Russo – 3/12/2010
If you want to learn how to mold young baseball talent, call the Florida Marlins. The front office has been breeding young talent since their inaugural season back in 1993.
Last year, outfielder Chris Coghlan was named the National League Rookie of the Year. Coghlan was the third Marlin to win the award in the last seven years. In the second half of the season last year the left handed hitter hit a major league best .372 carrying the Marlins and making them a serious playoff contender.
Third year Marlins Manager Freddi Gonzalez praised his outfielder for carrying his young team. ” Last year what Chris did, he basically carried us the second half of the year. Every night was three hits.”
Coghlan was a huge reason why the Marlins won 87 games, the third most wins in team history, only behind the 2003 and 1997 teams, which wound up winning the World Series. The Florida native also broke the MLB record for most hits in the second half of the season.
Now Coghlan wants to keep a level head this season. “You have to stay humble don’t let things in this game pump you up. You are never has good as people say you are, and you are never as bad as people say you are.”
It will be tough to outperform his rookie campaign. Coghlan started the season playing for the Marlins Triple A affiliate Mississippi, and ended the season hitting .382 in the month of September batting leadoff for a team trying to knock off the defending World Series Champion, Philadelphia Phillies for the NL East division crown.
Now analysts are predicting the infamous sophomore slump for Coghlan down in sunny Florida, but Coghlan does not plan on having a down year. “Thanks for bringing that up. You have the keep the same approach as last year. I am just going to try to stay disciplined in my work and continue to work hard.”
At the young age of 24 Coghlan is known for being a quiet player who goes about his work and never shows a sign of selfishness. It is a testament to his character considering he could not have had a better rookie season leading MLB rookies in every major category such as hits, doubles, total bases, multi-hit games, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
A fellow Marlin who knows a thing or two about being a young ballplayer in the bigs is second baseman Dan Uggla. Uggla became the fastest second baseman to reach 100 home runs, and he became the first second basemen in major league baseball history to hit 30+ home runs in his first three seasons.
Uggla likes what he sees at the plate from the young leftfielder. “Chris is a very mature baseball player. He knows the strike zone he battles and battles. He has a great idea of what is going on at the plate I do not think we will be seeing any sophomore slumps from him.”
Coghlan has shown that the off-season did not slow him down. In six spring training games this March, Coghlan is hitting .300, scoring five runs while driving in six. If this is a sign of what is to come from this young left fielder, Coghlan might be putting another trophy next to his Rookie of the Year award.
By Johnny Russo – 3/12/2010